By Jacinta Nwachukwu,
In recent times, flooding has been a recurrent problem in most parts of the world.
In Nigeria, for instance, there have been several reports of flooding in some towns and cities, particularly during downpours.
Analysts note that flooding can cause a lot of physical damage, including destruction of farmlands and houses, while killing or displacing people.
They, however, blame the incidence of floods on improper refuse disposal habits as well as erection of buildings on water channels, thereby obstructing the free flow of water whenever it rains.
What then is the right approach towards flood prevention?
Alhaji Isah Barda, Executive Director, Katsina State Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA), said that prompt and regular evacuation of refuse from drainage channels would avert flood disasters during rainy seasons.
He said that the agency carried out refuse evacuation from the drainage systems of major towns and cities in the state during the recent environmental sanitation exercise.
“We observed that our gutters and drains contain a lot of waste which could obstruct the smooth flow of water.
“We have deployed no fewer than 20 tippers that go round to evacuate the refuse to outskirts of the towns,” he said.
Besides, Barda said that the agency had an agreement with some youth clubs to assist in removing waste from gutters in their neighbourhoods.
“Some non-governmental organisations are also providing assistance by evacuating refuse from the gutters and the refuse is taken out of the towns for disposal,’’ he said.
Barda, however, appealed to the people to refrain from dumping garbage in gutters and drainage channels so as to make the recent refuse evacuation a worthwhile exercise.
Sharing similar sentiments, Alhaji Umar Ahmad, Managing Director, Jigawa State Environmental Protection Agency (JISEPA), stressed that the dumping of refuse in drainage channels was one of the major causes of flooding.
He, therefore, urged the public to desist from dumping refuse in drains.
According to him, his agency has been working hard to evacuate waste from drains and refuse dumps so as to allow free-flow of water in major towns and villages, particularly those areas that were prone to flood.
He said apart from blocking the drains, indiscriminate waste disposal could also trigger the outbreak of diseases.
Due to the dire consequences of indiscriminate refuse disposal, some groups have been spearheading efforts to clean up the environment.
For instance, the Sabon-Gari Youth Association in Kaduna has been encouraging the youth to, once in a while, help out in cleaning their environs, particularly the drainage systems, in order to avoid flooding.
The Chairman of the association, Mr Regenal Amam, said that such clean-up exercises were crucial in efforts to improve the living conditions of residents.
He said that the recognition of this fact compelled the association to designate specific days as sanitation days to clean up the drainage systems of the city.
He observed that the residents often dumped their garbage in drains, insisting that such acts could block waterways and damage roads, while making the roads impassable.
“Our sanitation activity is to ensure that water runs through the channels without flooding the environment and resulting in the onset of communicable diseases,” he added.
Amam advised the residents to comply with the extant environmental laws designed to promote safe, clean and tidy surroundings, stressing that a filthy environment could provoke an outbreak of epidemics and unnecessary loss of lives.
He emphasised that environmental health issues were a collective responsibility of the citizens and not the sole responsibility of the government.
He, however, called on the government to pay more attention to the outskirts of urban centres, while addressing the sanitation challenges facing densely populated areas.
All the same, analysts reiterate the need to sensitise people to the negative effects of bad waste disposal habits, which can also trigger flooding during rainy seasons.
A Lagos lawmaker, Assemblyman Saka Fafunmi, nonetheless, said that certain measures were in place in Lagos State to protect residents from flooding during the rainy season.
Fafunmi, who is the Chairman of the House Committee on Environment, stressed that pragmatic efforts were made to ensure that the drainage systems were not blocked.
He said that this was because any blockage of drains by refuse would affect the free flow of water and thereby cause flooding.
Fafunmi, however, conceded that a major challenge facing the state was the lack of equipment to forecast the amount of expected rainfall during rainy seasons.
“We only hope that our preparations will be sufficient enough to meet the demands of the rain when it comes.
“But as you can see lately, we have the Environmental Flood Abatement Department (EFAD) that takes care of all the waste in the drainage systems.
“We also have other things which we are working on to ensure there is free flow of water.
“We, however, want to assure that with the adequate preparations we have put on ground, the people’s lives and property are secured,’’ he said.
Expressing its readiness to tackle the menace of indiscriminate waste disposal, the Kano State Government said that it would establish mobile courts to try violators of the state’s environmental laws.
Gov. Abdullahi Ganduje said this when he inaugurated the newly acquired multi-million naira refuse disposal equipment.
He said that the equipment was acquired, as part of his administration’s efforts to improve refuse disposal activities in the state.
He stressed that the mobile courts were introduced to check blatant abuse of the state’s environmental laws.
Besides, Ganduje said that the government would work with the State House of Assembly, with a view to reviewing existing environmental laws to make them more effective and result-oriented.
“The state government will not fold its arms and allow some few individuals to continue to violate our environment laws, to the detriment of the entire people of the state,’’ he said.
According to him, there is also a plan to restructure the state’s Refuse Management and Sanitation Board (REMASAB) and reposition it for effective service delivery.
He charged the management of REMASAB to imbibe a maintenance culture in order to enable the new equipment to last long.
Sharing similar sentiments, the Delta State Government said that the state’s sanitation laws would henceforth be strictly enforced.
It warned that Private Sector Participants (PSP) would no longer evacuate waste from residences until the occupants presented their receipts for payment of sanitation levies.
Mr Adeniyi Osawaro, the Public Relations Officer of the PSP, said that it had come to the notice of the state government that many residences did not pay their bills but wanted regular services.
“Some of them dump their waste on walkways and some dispose it in uncompleted buildings. Others deposit it just anywhere available,’’ he said.
Osawaro complained that some residences breached existing protocols and disposed their waste at refuse dumpsites so as to avoid the payment of bills.
He, however, warned that defaulters, who were caught depositing waste indiscriminately, would be fined N50, 000 or made to spend six months in prison.
Nevertheless, Mr Lola Awoniyi, the Transition Committee Chairman, Sagamu Local Government Council in Ogun, urged the people to always abide by environmental laws, saying they were made to enhance neighbourhood sanitation as well as people’s health and living standards.
“Our people must desist from improper waste disposal habits such as disposing waste in drains and road medians because a clean environment will enhance their health and productivity,” he said.
Moreover, Awoniyi urged shop owners and market women to always participate regularly in organised environment clean-up exercises, saying that the cleanliness of the environment would always improve people’s health and wellbeing.
All in all, analysts urge the government at all levels to construct more refuse dumpsites, while adopting modern waste collection and disposal strategies. (NANFeatures)
**If used, please credit the writer as well as News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)